It reached 11 degrees for the low temp last night. When it's that cold I can actually pinpoint the few places the Airstream leaks. The floor doesn't leak air, which was my primary motivation behind two layers of plywood with opposing joints (bottm vert, top horiz). Despite having replaced the door gasket with a new one, the door leaks more than anything else. That being said, it's pretty tight and since I was beneath the covers and had my little 1300 watt electric heater on, I was never actually cold last night. I did notice that the heater never shut off. That is unusual, since I have it set to shut off around 55-60 degrees since I am not the one paying the light bill at El Cosmico.
Before I went to bed last night I watched the Mike Jones movie "American Dream". Yes, I moved Landis' DVD player and the TV he donated into the Airstream so I could wathc that movie and also another about the 60's folk band The Holy Modal Rounders that my brother Mark gave me for Christmas. Both movies were astounding for totally different reasons. When I remember the title of the Holy Modal Rounder documentary I'll discuss it more. AS for Mike Jones' American Dream, it's based on the story of his rising to fame in the H-Town game. There's very little bad language, essentially no drug use (despite the fact that Mike Jones is a part-time drug dealer ion the movie after quitting his job at Frenchy's). Anyway, the movie is so H-Town it's almost mind-boggling. The one white character is "Attorney Goldberg" who is a slick attorney with an office in Williams Tower. He gets Mike's kid brother out of jail and Mike out of his record deal with "Smoke Out" records. I presume that's the substitue for Swishahouse since Mike gets back in the "Ice Age" game (his own label). I can't really go into any more detail right now because it's so ludicrously H-Town in that kind of amateur rap movie way, but Gallery Furniture is in there as is Frenchy's and some pretty good footage of the city. I would like very much to see the Houston Press review this film. I will bug John Lomax about it- it should be in the music section, not film.
Back to what actually happened over the last two days. I took another trip to Alpine to finish the banking stuff at West Texas National Bank. I also grabbed paneling supplies for the game room at McCoy's. I cmae back here and got on the table saw to cut the sections of the ply-beadbpard that is going on the one new game room interior wall. Once I got all that cut and put up I began working on cleaning up and painting the celing fans. They are all whote, and I can't stand white ceiling fans since they are immediately filthy once they are tured on. So instead I have been painting the bodies and balde arms black and the blades themselves brown. This is done with oil based spray paint. The fans have to be drained of all their old oil, thoroughly cleaned with paint thinner and taped off. I had some initial bad luck with the brown paint for the blades bubbling up after one side of the blade was painted. This was occuring when a second coat of paint was hitting the areas of the blade that were exposed to both sprayings. Today I went to the hardware store and got some wire so now I have the blades hanging from the rafters and paint both sides all at once. There have been a few drips, but pretty minor. Nobody will ever see them anyway, as the big fans will all be in the rafters of the showroom once the roof is replaced. However, the fans look totally great- they look like Hunter fans from the 30's with the black satin finish and the plain brown blades. Very cool.
By the way, I have to keep all the balde sets together as they were originally weighed at the Hunter plant in Memphis and grouped together. This is why you will rarely see a Hunter original rocking back and forth. This also helps conserve the motor bearings and provides for ultra quiet operation. It's a shame that these fans are no longer being produced this way. I will say, however, that the current Hunter original is still, by far, the best ceiling fan on the market today. Retail these days is in the $250 each range. I have seen them recently on sale for about $175. These cost me each $20 for the large ones and $10 for the small ones.
Last night I attended the public hearing regarding water and sewage rate increases for the City of Marfa. Following that was the regular council meeting. Attrendance at both was higher than normal. Anyway, the end result was that both water and sewer rates were increased, but for the low water user rates will reamin basically unchanged. The old system was a sliding scale that gave breaks to higher water users per 1000 gallons. Same with the sewer rate. Now the low water user will pay essentially the same as he/she would have before, but higher water users will pay more per 1000 gallons as usage goes up. I still think the prices are very reasonable, especially given that the water tastes great and the city is totally broke. This will encourage conservation among the populace, which, in my opinion, is important out here since our water table has been documented as declining. All that taken into account, the city should make more money on water (instead of losing $) and water consumption should also decrease. Welcome to the 21st century. Other items covered at the council meeting included a unanimous adoption of the new zoning variance application fees that our Board of Adjustments recommeded after our meeting last month (at which I was a voting member) and discussion of how to proceed with regard to negotiating with the City of Alpine on the new inter-local agreement on ownership of the gas company (Alpine and Marfa co-own Southwest Municipal Gas Co and the old agreement is about to run out). This will be a big deal- big $ and lots of control issues will be on the table. Lastly, there was a rare comment by a citizen during the usually silent "open citizen comments" period at the head of the regular council meeting by a gentleman who roundly criticized the Police Dept for not enforcing rules such as towing abandoned vehicles, illegal downtown U-turns, inspection stickers, parking facing against traffic, etc. This cat definitely has an axe to grind, and it sounds like he is particularly not fond of any of Adam Bork's cars and/or the Food Shark. This is the first time I've actually heard a complaint about the current police chief, who I think does a great job considering he's understaffed and underbudgeted. Anyway, Mayor Dunlap listened for a while and then made some jokes. Anyway, the topic was not addressed and this gentleman actually had some good insights and things to say later in the meeting when water and sewer rates were addressed and the new rates adopted.
Tonight, which is Friday night, I completed work at 6 and headed down to the Marfa Public Library for a proclamation by the Mayor and some food and music commemorating the beginning of Marfa's official "Big Read" month, where everyone is given a free copy of Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" and instructed to read it. Over the course of the month there will be numerous community discusions, activities, speakers, presentations and get togethers all addressing this book. It's and NEA project and books are available in both English and Spanish. I got my copy tonight. At the library itself was a nice spread of food (always great party food in Marfa!) and a conjunto/traditional Tex-Mex acoustic group led by local saxophonist and part-time journalist Johnny Calderon. It was very enjoyable. Of course I loooked like walking hell in my dirty overalls and Houston Roller Derby shirt (plus my unwashed for nearly a week hair stivking up everywhere!). The cool thing is nobody really cares. It was an event of good spirits all around. There was a fancy art opening tonight as well, but I have been skipping out on that type of stuff unless someone specifically asks me to go. First off, I am not too clean these days with all this work, and secondly I like to get up before nine and get cracking on the coffee and work. Tomorrow is urethane day for the new game room wall. I stained it today and now it's dry. I would deal with that tonight, but despite the fact it's not even cold compared to last night (36 degrees right now) the polyurethane does not like it under 60 degrees.
Tomorrow night there is a very cool looking presentation going on at the Goode Crowley theater across the street. Houston-born Mel Chin will show a film and sign novellas comparing and contrasting the U.S.'s 9/11 experience in 2001 and Chile's 9/11 experience in 1973 when Augustus Pinochet took over in a violent military coup and ruled through and with terror for the next 17 years. So once again my work day will end by 6 unless I pick back up later, which is possible since it should be maybe in the upper 30's for a low tomorrow night. - David